Juan Pena and Ricardo Casal
The two creatives who selected the digital work for this issue are Executive Creative Directors Juan Pena and Ricardo Casal, who have been with DAVID The Agency since it was first founded in Buenos Aires in 2012.
We’re competing with Trump to get into the headlines.
DAVID shot to international advertising fame last year at Cannes by winning 25 Lions – to say nothing of the Direct Grand Prix for Google Home of the Whopper. Michael Weinzettl talked to the creative duo about their extremely successful agency while also sounding them out on their predictions for this year’s Cannes Lions.
Hi Ricardo and Juan. First of all, a big thank-you for selecting the “Digital” works for this issue of Archive magazine!
It’s an honor for us. As the ad nerds we are, we grew up in the advertising world reading Lürzer’s Archive and learning from all the brilliant work it assembled from around the world.
Can you tell us about DAVID The Agency? Who founded it, and since when have you been open for business? From your website (or rather the visual on it), I gather that DAVID grew out of an Ogilvy in-house creative lab. Or am I wrong? How did DAVID come about?
DAVID was founded back in 2012 by Gaston Bigio, Anselmo Ramos, and Fernando Musa. It started with offices in São Paulo and Buenos Aires, and in 2014 opened the third office in Miami. And we were lucky enough to help open two of those three offices. DAVID is a first-name agency, an agency that focuses on firsts, and, yes, it follows the legacy from the first name of David Ogilvy. But we are not an in-house or a creative lab, we are a full-service creative agency that’s part of the Ogilvy Group. In just six years, the agency has evolved a lot, we have grown in clients, size, and creative reputation. We now have over 120 employees across our three offices, working for amazing clients and have won Grand Prix awards at almost every festival out there.
Who are the main people behind DAVID?
Following the departure of Gaston and Anselmo, Fernando took on the role of chairman, with Paulo Fogaca becoming the new global COO overseeing the three offices. In Miami, we have Carmen Rodriguez as head of accounts, and Vero Beach as global head of production. And we lead the creative department as ECDs alongside Tony Kalathara.
What about DAVID’s other offices? Miami is your HQ, though, isn’t it?
In Argentina, Joaquin Cubría and Ignacio Ferioli are the CCOs and vice presidents, with Emanuel Abeijon serving as managing director. In Brazil, Rafael Donato is the VP of creative with Sylvia Panico as managing director. There is no official HQ, every office working independently, but we do collaborate on many projects very closely. We work as a mini-network tightly knit together.
How about yourselves? How long have you been with DAVID? What is your background?
We started with DAVID Buenos Aires back when the agency opened in 2012, and were one of the first employees. Then we moved to Miami to help open this office in 2014. So we’ve been here since the very beginning and it’s been an amazing journey. Before that we had a brief stint at TBWA Buenos Aires, and before that we were working for agencies in our native Ecuador.
Did the win at Cannes last year catch you by surprise?
It was an amazing year in Cannes. We won the Grand Prix in Direct for Google Home of the Whopper. And, overall, we got 25 Lions. That made DAVID Miami the #4 best agency in the world. We put in a lot of effort and hard work to make it happen. We knew it was going to be a good year but it definitely exceeded our expectations.
If you are DAVID, who is GOLIATH? The ad industry? the indifference/jadedness of consumers nowadays?
For us, the Goliath is everything else that’s grabbing people’s attention: the entertainment industry, politics, videogames, memes … We are in a constant fight to become part of pop culture and, in that fight, advertising is definitely the underdog. So you need an incredible idea in order to make people talk about a brand – as opposed to whatever TV show they are talking about.
What are the campaigns you worked on at DAVID that you’re proudest of?
We have many, and they all make us proud in different ways, but if we’d have to pick some we’d say Manboobs4boobs for Macma made us super-proud. It was a powerful idea that generated real change for good, and tackled ridiculous censorship rules from social media at the same time. Also, there’s Google Home of the Whopper, which was probably the most intense campaign we’ve ever worked on. It was an amazing collaboration with our clients from Burger King, and it was a huge challenge to pull it off and beat Google but, somehow, we did it.
Who had the idea of turning the fictional Heinz campaign, as originally featured in “Mad Men,” into a real one? How did that come about? Was it difficult to get the makers of “Mad Men” to allow you to use it as a real campaign?
This was also one of the campaigns we are proudest of. It’s one of our babies. We were re-watching Mad Men for the second time, and at the same time we were thinking about a brief for our client Heinz. We saw Don’s pitch and thought that it was actually a great idea, and still is for today. Then we sold it internally and to the client, because, after all, who wouldn’t want to share credits with Draper and his team? And, after that, we started the talk with the show’s creators. It took us some time but we finally aired it.
What are some of the recent campaigns, in print or film, from the US or internationally that have impressed you most?
In film, there’s two that impressed us and made us jealous. First is the Londoners spot from Nike. It’s just a great idea that celebrates a specific community with excellent craft. Then there’s the Apple Home Pod spot by Spike Jonze, which is one of the most impressive pieces of film craft we’ve seen: it’s a puzzle that puts every piece together perfectly – the choreography, the music, the colors, the set, everything.
Do you have any guesses as to which ads might win big at Cannes this year?
Of course those two films that we just mentioned should win big. Also, the logo redesign from Lacoste to raise awareness for endangered species is such a simple and powerful idea.
And the Nintendo Cardboard is such a game-changing idea that can revolutionize an industry.
How do DAVID deal with the different media, in particular integrated campaigns that include experiential, social media, as well as print and film? Are there different departments, or do all creatives work on all media? What is the lead medium with the most campaigns created by DAVID?
We usually don’t think in specific media. If you see the body of work from DAVID, we don’t focus on one specific channel; it’s always about the idea and the best way to bring it to life. And that’s how everyone in the agency works: we try to find the perfect place the idea should live in. I’d say the agency is really strong on stunts but, then again, some of the most awarded campaigns from last year were prints, OOH, and a :15 TVC. So that’s why we think of ideas first and media later.
What do you think will be the future of print ads? Or are they on the verge of extinction?
We think that prints are alive and well, and they’ll continue to live as long as they have great ideas behind them. We keep on seeing print ads that reinvent what a print ad can be, prints that go beyond being a print, that have an amazing idea behind them. Like the IKEA Pregnancy Test ad.
Has the Trump presidency had any influence on advertising in the US?
It has had a big influence, it has generated a cultural impact, and his administration draws a lot of media attention. So, in that sense, we are competing with Trump to get into the headlines, into people’s conversations and pop culture.
What’s your secret when seeking inspiration for your work?
For us, it is about loving advertising and pop culture. We love this industry and we are always thinking about how to help make our brands famous. So we are always consuming pop culture and thinking of how to bring our brands inside that zeitgeist in a relevant way.
What were the criteria used to select the digital works for this issue of Lürzer’s Archive?
Beyond looking for cool new technologies, we were looking for great ideas that lived naturally in the digital world. And, as always, things that make us jealous – that’s always a good measurement.
Would you say now was a particularly good time to get into advertising as a creative, or are there more promising options for young people?
It’s always been a good time to get into advertising as long as you love it. But with how the world works right now, and how connected everything is, ad agencies are playing a bigger role for brands, business, and in society. Now, an idea created for a brand can truly shape culture, apps ideated inside an agency can change behaviors, and advertising is becoming so much more than ads. There might be more promising options in other aspects for young people, but advertising is – and has always been – about ideas. And, today, ideas are more powerful than ever.